Parent Asks How to Prepare for an IEP Meeting

Question: I never feel like I am being heard at IEP meetings with the school team. How should I prepare for these meetings? — Want to be Heard.

Answer: If you look back on any of your child’s IEPs, you should see areas where your ideas have been written out on the document. Look closely at this parent section to make sure it expresses what you wanted. And always very carefully read the document before signing it. Every year there will be changes and different concerns because, as your child progresses through the educational system, needs vary.

At annual IEP meetings when parents and the team update the IEP, you will be asked for your input on what you think your child’s strengths and weaknesses are, along with any concerns you have about your child’s education. So that you clearly get your thoughts expressed, you do need to take the time to prepare before the meeting. In fact, you may wish to submit a parent-concerns letter to the IEP team two days before the meeting so it can be pasted into the school’s IEP form. In this way, you will clearly outline your concerns to the team. In the letter, write down your ideas clearly on the following:

— A summary of your child’s strengths.

— A summary of your child’s weaknesses.

— A detailed list of the concerns that you have about your child’s school performance.

These concerns must be addressed to ensure your child’s academic success. This is where you are looking for accommodations like the following to be added to make sure that your child does well in school.

1. Are you worried about assignments or the amount of homework?

2. Note-taking: Does your child need to be given notes?

3. Should test dates and assignments be written in the planner for your child?

4. Does your child get frustrated at school and need a place to go to calm down?

5. Does your child need more time on assignments and tests?

6. Does your child need to have spell check?

7. Does your child need to have a calculator for math tests?

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Question: As a freshman, I cursed at a teacher. I apologized and thought that was it. Now I am applying for college and see the incident is on my permanent record. Can I get it erased from my record? — Need Help

Answer: Every student has a file that includes grades, teacher evaluations, medical records, disciplinary reports, attendance records, behavior reports and standardized testing results. If you are over 18, you can request to see your files or your parents can see your files. You do have the right to request changes to your file and even removal of items from the file. This needs to be done in writing.

However, if the disciplinary report is not pulled, you have the right to attach a letter commenting on any contested portions of your record. Note that this is a red flag to college admissions, and a complete review might be done on the candidate before being admitted.

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